Birmingham Area Homebuilders – Poised for a Comeback

Birmingham area homebuilders may be poised for a comeback this year. – by Dawn Kent, Birmingham News

Metro Birmingham homebuilders could be poised for a comeback in 2011, after a steep market downturn left most of the industry battered.

During a two-week period in January, more than 50 building permits were issued for speculative single-family homes in area neighborhoods, according to data collected by Southern Exposure, a Huntsville firm that tracks permit activity. That’s up from roughly 10 a week in recent months.

The sharp uptick might be the result of seasonal factors, said Bart Fletcher, executive officer of the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.

If builders want to have houses ready for the typically busy spring buying season, now is the time they start working on them, he said.

But, Fletcher added, “I think builders are more optimistic about 2011. I think that we really believe we have seen the bottom. A lot of builders have not built anything new for quite some time. We’ve worked through the inventory.”

The original article in its entirety from Dawn Kent at the Birmingham News can be found at the blog.

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Confidence grows among Ala. real estate execs

This past weekend Lauren Cooper of the Birmingham Business Journal wrote about this quarter’s release of The University of Alabama’s “Alabama Real Estate Confidence Index”. According to the article, the index shows significant increases in real estate expectations in Birmingham and other North Central regions of the state.

This is promising news for the future of new home sales in Birmingham over the coming months. To read the original article posted on, please follow the link.


Confidence Grows Among Alabama Real Estate Execs

Confidence is up among the state’s real estate professionals, particularly in the central Alabama area, according the Alabama Center for Real Estate.

The University of Alabama center released Friday its Alabama Real Estate Confidence Index for the first quarter of 2011, with all indicators showing improvement.

ACRE said the overall index score was 47, which was up from 43 the previous quarter but below the mid-level mark of 50, indicating no change expected. The score includes both residential and commercial real estate expectations.

The North Central region, which includes Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Anniston, had the most significant increase on the index of the four regions of the state, jumping 10 points to 56. However, inventory, pricing and credit were still below the 50 mark.

ACRE said the state’s commercial market participants were more optimistic in their scoring for the first quarter. That index rose 9 points to 59 overall and to 55 for sales expectations. But pricing remained weak at 40.

ACRE’s confidence index is compiled from a survey of nearly 600 statewide real estate professionals.

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New Birmingham Beltline to bring $7bil

The proposed 53 mile beltline to the north of Birmingham has been given great expectations for the economic future of the city. New Birmingham homes and new home communities, including those designed and constructed by Thornton Homes, may hopefully see increases in value over the coming years if the beltline lives up to these expectations. Below is an article from Jeremy Gray at the Birmingham News posted on which details the project and its estimated economic return. As stated, the project could generate 70,000 jobs over the 21 year timeline and bring in $2billion annually after it is completed, an economic injection certainly to be felt by the Birmingham homes for sale and new home communities in this part of the state.

I-422 to infuse billions in Birmingham area

The Northern Beltline will likely generate an economic impact of more than $7.1 billion during construction and $2 billion annually after it’s built, according to a report being unveiled this morning.

The study commissioned by the Coalition for Regional Transportation said that the nearly 53-mile interstate linking Interstate 20/59 in southwest Jefferson County to I-59 in northeast Jefferson County will create jobs, generate tax revenue and improve traffic safety.

The study, completed by Sam Addy of the University of Alabama Center for Business and Economic Research, shows that the Birmingham area should reap the vast majority of the benefits of the beltline’s expected economic impact.

Current plans call for the $3 billion construction of the beltline to be completed in 21 years. About 70,000 jobs would be created statewide during the construction phase. Of those construction jobs, approximately 33,525 would be in the Birmingham area, according to the executive summary of the study obtained by The Birmingham News.

A BBA spokesman declined to comment on the report prior to this morning’s presentation of the study.

After construction is complete, the beltline is expected to bring another 20,000 jobs each year statewide. Nearly 12,000 of those will be in Jefferson County alone.

Construction of the beltline is also expected to be a shot in the arm for residential and business growth over the next 30 years in the six-mile wide corridor adjacent to the beltline.

By 2040, the population of the beltline corridor is expected to increase 22.3 percent. The beltline is expected to bring 3.4 percent of that increase, or about 6,500 more people than would join the population without the beltline.

The beltline is expected to bring an additional 372 new businesses to the area, for an additional 4 percent commercial growth.

The study also examined the socioeconomic and environmental effects of the Northern Beltline, which will eventually be named Interstate 422.

“The highway will not unfairly or disproportionately affect minority and low-income populations,” the report states. “Instead it presents development opportunities that can benefit these groups.”

The beltline should improve access to jobs for low income residents. Future developments in the area of the beltline should include mixed income housing to prevent the displacement of lower income residents, the study suggested.

The interstate should also improve traffic safety, travel times and the overall air quality of the area near the beltline.

The findings presented in the study are conservative, the executive summary states, because it factors in income, sales and property taxes, but not occupational taxes and taxes on things such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and hotel and motel rooms.

Read the original article here.

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Before You Buy Your First Home – Tips for a First-time Home Buyer

It’s not uncommon for a first-time home buyer to say to me, “Gosh, just last week I called you about buying a home and now I’m in escrow! How did this happen so fast?”

The answer is it didn’t. First-time home buyers start the search long before most even realize it. Here’s what you can expect from your home shopping experience.

Benefits for a First-Time Home Buyer

You should buy a home. That’s what you’ve been hearing from friends and family, right? So, by now you have likely already weighed the benefits and decided that home ownership was the best decision for you. That’s a major hurdle now passed. You are focused and certain. Good.

Defining Search Parameters for a First-Time Home Buyer

Almost 80% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, home buyers can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. You’ve probably defined your goals and have a pretty good idea of the type of home and neighborhood you want. By the time you reach your real estate agent’s office, you are halfway to home ownership.

How Long Should It Take to Buy Your First Home?

In seller’s markets, often I show only one home. After all, how many homes does one family need? A few buyers will look for years, but buyers who do that aren’t motivated. A motivated buyer will find a home within two weeks. Most of my buyers find a home within two days.

Good real estate agents will listen to your wants and needs and arrange to show only those homes that fit your particular parameters. Your agent should preview homes before showing them to you as well.

How Many Homes Will a Home Buyer See?

Studies show that your memory dramatically improves after consumption of carbs and slows upon consuming sugar. So, lay off the soft drinks and have a hearty meal of carbs before venturing out to tour homes. The average number of homes that I show to a buyer in one day is seven. Any more than that, and the brain is on overload. Therefore, don’t expect to see 20 or 30 homes; although it’s physically possible to do so, you probably will not remember specific details about any of them.

The “Red Shoes” Experience for a Home Buyer

Women will relate to this. Say, you need a new pair of red shoes. You go to the mall. At the first shoe store, you find a fabulous pair of red shoes. You try them on. They fit perfectly. They are glamorous. Priced right, too. Do you buy them? Of course not! You go to every other store in the mall trying on red shoes until you are ready to drop from exhaustion. Then you return to the first store and buy those red shoes. Do not shop for a home this way. When you find the perfect home, buy it.

How a First-Time Home Buyer Can Rate Inventory

* Bring a digital camera and begin each series of photos with a close-up of the house number to identify where each group of home photos start and end.
* Take copious notes of unusual features, colors and design elements.
* Pay attention to the home’s surroundings. What is next door? Do 2-story homes tower over your single story?
* Do you like the location? Is it near a park or a power plant?
* Immediately after leaving, rate each home on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

View Top Choices a Second Time Before Buying That First Home

After touring homes for a few days, you will probably instinctively know which one or two homes you would like to buy. Ask to see them again. You will see them with different eyes and notice elements that were overlooked the first go-around.

At this point, your agent should call the listing agents to find out more about the sellers’ motivation and to double-check that an offer hasn’t come in, making sure these homes are still available to purchase.

Making the Selection To Buy a Home

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I generally know which home a buyer is going to choose, and I suspect most other agents operate the same way. It’s an intuition. But I make it a practice not to steer buyers, and I insist that buyers choose the home without interference from me. It’s not my choice to make.

Real estate agents are required, however, to point out defects and should help buyers feel confident that the home selected meets the buyer’s search parameters.

By Elizabeth Weintraub, Guide

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Sketches of $70mil Westin Hotel Proposed in Birmingham

The developer for the proposed Westin Hotel project in downtown Birmingham has released new sketches of his vision for the impressive hotel. Thornton Homes is the proud developer and builder of many Birmingham new home communities, and projects like this both enhance our city and provide extra convenience for out-of-town friends and family of our residents. Below is the full article from Joseph D. Bryant of the Birmingham News, posted on

An Atlanta developer has architectural sketches of the luxury Westin Hotel planned as part of a $70 million project near the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

The sketches were prepared by Rabun Rasche Rector Reece Architects.

Developer Robert L. Schwartz, president of National Ventures Group, said he hopes to break ground on the hotel in November and open it in 2012.

In town Tuesday to attend a City Council meeting, Schwartz said his company would raise $13 million in private money to go along with $57 million in public financing for the project. The hotel would be managed by the BJCC, along with the Birmingham Sheraton. Both hotels would share staff and management, making the project more economical, Schwartz said.

“Birmingham residents will take pride in having a first-class hotel for their out-of-town guests,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said he is certain the project will go as planned.

“We have been trying and will continue to try to meet with council, the BJCC board and the mayor’s office one-on-one, so we can answer whatever questions come to their minds,” he said. “Once we have this kind of meeting and the questions have been answered we’ll have a stronger support system.”

Read the original article here.

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